On any given weekday, folks who drop in at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington D.C. expect to get the inside scoop on life in what's arguably the most powerful political building in the world.
Better known to the outside world as The White House, it's where some of the most critical decisions affecting the country and the planet are made. And the guided tours that take place Monday through Friday imply that folks will get a first-hand look at how the top-end of the democratic infrastructure works. And maybe, they might get a peek of the President in the process.
That isn't likely since the tour won't even go near the Oval Office or the Situation Room. Tourists will get a glimpse of the Rose Garden and much of the East Wing, areas as far away from the action as possible. The tours will hit the China Room, State Dining Room, Blue Room, Green Room, and the Red Room.
But they'll be unable to visit several spots facilitating a few things that most people don't even know about, including those listed here.
Bowling For Democracy
Military strategy is one job the President will find on his agenda from time to time, but here's one strike zone that is purely recreational. It's a bowling alley located on the main floor that's been in existence since 1947 when President Truman had one installed. Fellow avid bowler Richard Nixon had it refurbished in 1969 to include plush lounge seating on the side and it's been in regular use ever since.
While the alley is available to White House staff and their families, bowling is apparently treated as a security risk. Secret Service agents need to provide top clearance before you can even think of lacing up those bowling shoes.
Flicks For 40 Or More
Whether the going gets tough, sometimes the First Family likes to congregate somewhere to unwind, which is one reason why the family theater room is a must-have entertainment sanctuary in The White House. Featuring a gigantic screen and lounge-style seating for 40, it's where the primary residents can catch new movies even before they're released.
It's also where Barack Obama brought his homies to catch a Super Bowl game and where Ronald Reagan watched his favorite vintage Westerns. Richard Nixon reportedly used the room to watch The Notorious Landlady, a 1962 comedy that starred Jack Lemmon and Kim Novak, on the night of the infamous Watergate Hotel break-in.
Willy Wonka Would Be Proud
Even the most powerful heads of state have the occasional sweet tooth, which makes the Chocolate Shop one of the more indispensable services in the White House. As part of several kitchens on the main floor, the Chocolate Shop is Ground Zero for centerpieces at major banquets and other formal occasions in the chief residence.
The Shop is also responsible for those elliptical sweets sought after during the Easter Egg Roll as well as the gingerbread replica of the White House during the Yuletide Season. And for staffers who need to satisfy a chocolate fix, the shop also has a concession stand.
Taking Time Out For Tunes
If music cures the savage breast, then here's a room that should be used more often. But it's not likely the White House music room has been used much of late. The spot first came to being when Hilary Clinton renovated this third-floor room into a place for husband and President Bill Clinton to perform his saxophone.
None of Clinton's successors has demonstrated any musical prowess on an instrument, although Barack Obama has proven he's got the pipes for the odd gospel tune or two. Before Clinton, presidents who had some musical ability included guitarist George H.W. Bush and pianists Richard Nixon and Harry Truman.
Among 182 Rooms, Still More Hidden Spots
Additional rooms that are either not well-known or off-limits to White House tours include a state-of-the-art gaming room complete with a $40,000 golf simulator. There's also a flower shop in the basement to supply goodwill bouquets to visiting dignitaries or a way for the President to get back into the graces of the First Lady in case Situation Room activities got in the way of a wedding anniversary.
Politicians stay healthy in a private workout room right next door to the music room, while the Map Room serves as an entertainment area for a smaller circle of guests. One guest room is reserved exclusively for Queen Elizabeth II on the rare occasion when she visits Washington D.C., while another area, the Vermeil Room, is totally dedicated to the storage of silverware.
Then there's one spot in The White House that still a rumor at best. That would be the tanning room used by the current U.S. President.